“I think the threat level is very high,” says Richard Dolan, who manages social media for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“There’s some people that have done it before.
But I think it’s really the first time that this kind of a bomb threat has gone viral, and it’s been done in a very sophisticated way.”
This year, Dolan says, there have been at least eight such threats against public gatherings in New York City, which includes New Years Eve, the day before the Big Apple is set to celebrate its largest-ever fireworks display.
Some have been carried out by groups like the Black Bloc, which the New York Police Department says is “a loose coalition of groups with varying ideologies” that often use the term “black bloc” to describe themselves.
The group has made several recent attempts to stage bomb attacks, and police say they have thwarted three in the past year.
Dolan notes that, despite its name, the Black Block isn’t necessarily affiliated with any particular political party, but “a broad range of ideologies.”
This weekend, the group was involved in an attack in New Jersey, where it reportedly attempted to set off a bomb at a bus stop and then tried to set a second device on fire at a park.
The device didn’t go off.
A police spokesperson tells The Associated Press that the group, which is part of the BlackBloc, “has a very diverse community of members and that is part and parcel of their activism.”
In the New England region, several other groups have also made bomb threats against the New Years, including a group calling itself “Black Lives Matter,” which said it would try to detonate a device at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the group is also holding its annual Black Friday party.
In addition, there were two similar threats made against the same time last year, in Rhode Island, in which a man said he planned to “set off bombs at colleges and businesses across the country” and another person said the group wanted to “bomb a bus carrying the New Jersey Turnpike.”
In addition to the threats, New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo has urged residents to remain vigilant for any new threats, saying in a statement that “if there is anything suspicious about anything you are seeing or hearing, contact the local police immediately.”
The FBI, meanwhile, has issued a nationwide alert urging residents to stay indoors.
“We don’t need your help, our officers are watching you and we are watching everyone else,” the alert reads.
The FBI also warns that anyone with information about any bomb threats should call the FBI’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or call 1-866-373-8477.
But the threat has made people wonder how this could have happened without a bomb.
In his New Year, Dolphan says he didn’t know what would happen next.
“I didn’t think we’d have any kind of bomb threat.
I was very surprised when I got the call and got the news.”
Some New Year celebrations are now canceled.
Some restaurants have removed decorations and signs.
Dolphannes brother says he’s hoping it won’t happen again.
“The bomb threat is just a very recent development.
And I hope it’s just a one-time thing,” he says.